What should supporters be hoping for over the close season…?
I don’t think Rowland Winter officially takes over the reins until the end of May, by which time we’ll only be 8 weeks away from the pre-season friendlies. However, two months is plenty of time to change things around and put in place the various systems that will be so relied upon come the start of the season.
It appears that Rowland Winter’s remit will be a wide one and I think we can expect to see changes to areas of the club outside that of just playing affairs.
I think I can mention at this late stage in the season that I met with Rowland Winter several weeks ago at his invitation. Ostensibly, it was a chance for the DoR-elect to meet with a fairly typical Cov supporter and gain some sort of understanding of what the view from the stands might be, having previously met with those with a more vested interest in the club – players, the Board members, sponsors, etc.
It was also, I guess, a chance to meet the person who would be potentially writing about his team on a daily basis.
I was impressed that he should want to meet with supporters even before his tenure had officially begun especially as the club hasn’t once acknowledged the existence of the blog in the 9 months it’s been going, even to say ‘look it’s not something we feel we can officially be involved’ (or even want to be involved in, despite me contacting the club to ask for some guidance without any response).
I do genuinely believe that RW is more aware of the importance of good PR and communication with the supporters than is the case at present.
He was extremely honest and open, so much so that he has made writing the blog very difficult since then because there are a number of things he covered which would have made extremely interesting posts. I was impressed with much of what I heard and with the man himself…he had an incredibly detailed knowledge of the club even at that relatively early stage and his vision is one that most of us would be prepared to buy into, albeit at the expense of several players who we feel deserved the opportunity to remain at the club they love.
I mention this meeting only in passing because it is relevant to this particular post. He is very interested in reaching out to the supporters and getting them more involved. I know he wants to set up a supporter’s club and is hoping to meet with supporters on a regular basis. He understands concerns about some aspects of communication and feels that the website could better serve the needs of its supporters, even to the extent of having a junior section.
I do think there will be some real changes made in the area of communication over the next 12 months and with Cliff B also in discussions with Jon Sharp about similar possible areas of development, the picture seems much rosier than it did some 12 months ago. I’m sure they will all move things forward.
Small steps at the moment, but in the right direction nevertheless.
And so to the main thrust of today’s post…as a supporter what would I hope to see happen over the next few weeks in readiness for the start of the pre-season games in August?
Well, one of the first things I would like see is quick access to an accurate and updated squad list with a short biography on each player…nothing grand at this stage , just a photo, previous club and perhaps height/weight/position. This would obviously be on the website and available well before the first friendly (preferably updated as each new player is announced), together with something similar in the first programme so that we have photos to refer to – with so many new players joining the club it’s going to take a few games to learn their names.
The dates of the friendlies should be known sooner rather than later. August is a time many families go on holiday and dad’s might want to plan their breaks around Cov games where possible. There’s nothing more frustrating than finding that you’re booked to go away for 10 days and you’re going to miss the two biggest games pre-season.
Together with the friendlies, it would be good if as many of the Nighthawks fixtures could be released as is possible before the start of the season, certainly those taking place before Christmas anyway. Alongside the fixtures, a brief statement as to what the Nighthawks are about would be welcome – who’s eligible, what the significance of the games is etc etc
A word about the friendlies – whilst the games last August against Ealing Trailfinders and London Welsh, both from the Championship, offered excellent entertainment and were both extremely competitive and hard fought, I’m not sure that in some way they weren’t responsible in part for the difficulties we experienced in mid-September.
The games took a lot out of players and in some respects we peaked too early…the games must have taken their toll and psychologically I do wonder if they resulted in some over-confidence – we performed so well against Ealing in particular, yet perhaps didn’t focus enough on those two early defeats against Hartpury and Richmond believing that we had already proved ourselves a couple of weeks previously. Did we take the foot of the gas?.
Is it best to play teams a league above us and who are fully professional, so bigger and stronger and fitter, or test ourselves against the better National 2 teams or equivalent…?
In addition to the above, it would be good to have a couple of ‘Meet the Coaches’ sessions in the bar in the evening, or even after an open coaching session on a Saturday. I’d be really interested to hear how the coaches are working with players in the build up to the league games – just how expansive will the rugby be next season, what the coaches main focus is at this stage of the season, what fitness work the players are presently concentrating on, the importance of diet and nutrition etc etc.
A pint and a chat in the bar…relaxed and in the form of a talk plus q+a session or something similar…it would be a quick way of allowing supporters to become more involved and informed and might prevent misunderstandings further down the line.
I do think an open training session on a Saturday morning or afternoon, with an opportunity for youngsters to have their pictures taken with players or get some autographs afterwards, would be welcomed. Most of us have only seen the players involved in pre-match warm-ups, so a full-on training session might make us realise just what is expected of the players during the week once the season has started. Include a barbecue and a chat to the players’ session and you might get a decent amount of interest.
In addition, it would be good to get some definitive statement regarding the kit for the forthcoming season – maybe it could be announced at the open training session. Such an announcement could include details of the change in supplier (if that is to be the case), together with mock ups of the new kit and a guarantee (!) that it will be available from the first home game – probably asking a bit too much, but if you don’t ask…
And perhaps a glimpse of the away kit, too? Will we see the repeat of this season’s shocking-pink-affair-that-never-was…I do hope so. In a top 5 list of the season’s greatest disappointments, the non-appearance of the away kit is right up there alongside the Esher game (away and we played in blue…)
And finally, it would be good to see some further developments with regard to the website. It is the vehicle by which all news pertaining to the club should be released and as such is the primary source of information. It has improved of late, but there is still much that could be done with it, especially in terms of information regarding the squad, weekly team news, etc etc. I’m not going to go over old ground, but a quick search of previous posts would detail some of the many suggestions made in the past as to how the website could be improved.
Finally, once the season starts, I would love to see the programmes stored onto a section of the website so that it is possible to go back and read one from a missed game. Alongside that it would be fantastic if there could be a table of the appearances each player has made, to include the opposition and the position, updated after each game and with some additional info such as try/point scorers, cards, attendances etc
The above is merely a wish list, nothing more.
Included are some of the things that would help raise supporters’ anticipation of the coming season and hopefully generate more interest once it has started.
The more supporters are kept informed, the more they will want to be involved…